Netanyahu offers new law in response to Druze anger at ‘Jewish nation state’ bill
06 August, 2018, 00:05
Thousands of members of Israel's Druze minority and their Jewish supporters packed a central Tel Aviv square Saturday night to rally against a contentious new law that critics say sidelines Israel's non-Jewish citizens.
The Druze, who follow an offshoot of Shiite Islam, have managed to survive in a turbulent region by showing loyalty to their country of residence - sometimes at the cost of fighting other Druze on the battlefield. I want to tell them: "There is nothing in this law that infringes on your rights as equal citizens of the state of Israel, and there is nothing in it that harms the special status of the Druze community in Israel", Netanyahu said on Sunday.
They also demanded a court order be issued that would instruct the Knesset and government to explain why the law should not be repealed, and in the event that it is not repealed, why it should not be amended to ensure equality for all citizens of israel.
Representatives of the Arabic-speaking Druze are angry over several facets of the new law, which legally defines Israel as "the historic homeland of the Jewish people".
A senior Iranian diplomat says Israel's adoption of the law that is further proof of the regime's apartheid nature, urging worldwide pressure on Tel Aviv to cancel the law. The same way we fight for the existence of the state, we are determined to fight for the right to live in equality and dignity.
Druze protests have increased against the recently passed Nation-State law that enshrines the state's Jewish character and which critics say undermines israel's democratic values.
The Druze, a religious sect spread throughout Israel, Lebanon and Syria, make up a subset of Israel's Arab population.
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"What makes Israel special is its unique social fabric - Jews, Arabs, Druze, Muslims, Christians, Bedouin, Circassians - together we are all Israel", she said. Numerous participants were waving the multi-colored Druze flag.
Palestinian citizens of Israel have long said they are treated as second-class citizens by Israeli authorities, suffering from discriminatory legislation and radically inferior access to public services and infrastructure compared with Jewish citizens.
Protesters have been holding signs "If we are brothers we must be equals" and "Our force is in our unity - the nation-state law differentiates between us", according to the Haaretz newspaper.
The Israeli left-wing and leaders of Israel's wider Arab community have also condemned the new law.
Last week, two Druze officers resigned from their positions in the IDF in protest against the law.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 2r, meets with the spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, Sheikh Muafak Tarif, 2l, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 27, 2018.
The Druze activist said the law would only harm "the heart of Israeli society, "those people who perceive themselves as part of the Israeli society...."
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